On Thursday, September 28, 2017 a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially mark the grand opening of the Coronado Cays’ very first art gallery, Captain’s Collection. Located at 505-B Grand Caribe Causeway, the ocean themed gallery, which features prints by some of the most well known and most talented photographers in Coronado and Imperial Beach, is owned by Daron A. Case, known locally as “The Captain of the Cays.”
Case, who moved to Coronado as an eight year old back in 1980, spent his formative years in the Coronado Cays, and has had a lifelong affinity for the ocean. Even though he went off to college after he graduated from Coronado High School in 1990, Coronado was still very much a part of Case’s identity, the place his heart called home.
After a quarter century away, Case, along with his wife and young children, moved back to the Cays in 2014. As an avid surfer at Silver Strand Beach, he began using his GoPro camera to capture images of waves, other surfers, dolphins, and even whale encounters. It wasn’t until he began sharing his photographs on local Facebook pages, however, that Case, a local real estate broker, began selling his digital artwork. He says, “The photos were well received, and I started selling prints around town at Emerald C Gallery, High Tide Bottle Shop & Kitchen and Calypso Cafe. I later joined Instagram and started posting my shots there.”
As locals took interest in his photography, Case too began taking note of other local photographers’ work, and was inspired to create an art gallery where residents of Coronado and Imperial Beach could come together to showcase their works of art. After having his name on a commercial space wait list for three years, his vision has finally become a reality. Case shares, “It has been my dream to open my real estate office with an art gallery in the front that features my photos as well as many of our amazing local ocean photographers’ work.”
Case is especially excited that Captain’s Collection is situated in the Coronado Cays, saying, “The Cays is the perfect location for the gallery as it is situated in the middle of the Silver Strand isthmus or tombolo, located between Imperial Beach and the Village of Coronado. The Captain’s Collection Art Gallery is a celebration of the common coastline from IB to Coronado, with all pieces inspired by our local beaches.”
On hand for the special event were Coronado’s Mayor Richard Bailey, City Councilman Mike Donovan, and one of Coronado’s favorite local musicians, Matt Heinecke. Mayor Bailey was proud to cut the ribbon with Case, sharing, “We love supporting our arts community, and really wish Daron all the success in the world.” Councilman Donovan said, “I think this is a great opportunity for Daron to open a business like this. He’s certainly proven himself to be a great photographer!”
Also on hand were representatives from the South Bay Clean Water Movement, who were there to the gather signatures of those guests who were interested in receiving updates related to sewage spills in Southern California from Mexico. Case has been an outspoken advocate that the ocean he loves and respects needs to be protected.
Often people associate art galleries with exorbitant prices, but Captain’s Collection will feature artwork that accommodate a broad spectrum of budgets. “There is a mix of different sizes and mediums for prints, with prices ranging from $25 to several hundred. The artists set their own prices,” Case explains. Some of the other artists whose works will be sold at Captain’s Collection include Brian Lippe, Dan McGeorge, Evgeny Yorobe, Nathan French, Jeremy Noyes, Mike Goodman, Dave Recker, JC Monje, Jeff Wallis, Will Holder, Kelley Kraft Casey, Maria Fernanda, and Jonny Victorino.
In addition to photography prints, Captain’s Collection will also feature other mediums, such as wood, metal, and canvas. Case offers, “Other works include oil and acrylic paintings by James Montalbano and LaShawn Krom, mosaic pieces by Michelle Irvine, and glass pieces by Michele Valenzuela Pruyn.”
The gallery’s name, which stems from Case’s self-appointed nickname, reflects the same commanding yet magnetic energy he brings to everything, including taking pictures. “I started using ‘Captain of the Cays’ as a handle for my social media accounts on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and it sort of stuck for my photography. Many people know me by Captain of the Cays, but don’t even know my real name,” he comments.
Captain’s Collection in and of itself is a beautiful reminder that the ocean’s majesty provides an endless array of photographic opportunities and artistic inspiration. What advice does the Captain of the Cays offer to those would-be-photographers who are interested in trying to capture the same high-quality coastline shots? “I am a ‘right time-right place’ photographer so for me it’s about being in or around the water with my gear, ready to snap at the right time when the wave is breaking or a marine mammal is swimming by,” he offers. He adds, “Other photographers featured in the gallery are very skilled with the best equipment and knowledge of how to use it. Many of the photographers featured in the gallery teach lessons including Dan McGeorge and Evgeny Yorobe.”
With the ribbon now officially cut on his new artistic business venture, Case, donning his signature captain’s cap, reflects on why the Cays, which he refers to as “a slice of paradise, tranquil and beautiful on the waterfront,” is the rightful home for the serene works featured at Captain’s Collection. “The Cays is much like a time capsule. It was fully built out in 1990, and we haven’t seen the sort of rapid development and lot splitting we have seen up in town,” he notes.
One of the most intriguing elements of the ocean that seems to draw people in is that its beauty remains timeless. Case enjoys the same view now that he did as a child back in the 1980s, and those who visit his gallery will be able to appreciate the wonders of the ocean through his eyes, understanding how as much as the world changes, the things that take our breath away, the ones that fill us with childlike awe and wonder, remain the same.